Kennewick's Brittany Evans doesn't like being told what she can or can't do.
First it was the people who saw her suffer her injury. Then it was the Lions' coaching staff assuming she would never play again. Finally, it was a doctor telling her she had no chance at being cleared to play.
The senior volleyball player, though, had other ideas.
So, despite having no ACL in her left knee, she walked onto the West Valley High School court last Saturday during the CBBN 3A district tournament to rousing applause from the Kennewick fans.
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The moment capped a month of tribulation for the freckle-faced, 5-foot-5 libero.
Evans tore her meniscus and ACL while hitting during warmups for the Sept. 19 Southridge match at Kennewick.
"The first doctor told me I wouldn't be able to heal in time, and he wouldn't clear me," Evans said. "I went to him two weeks after my surgery, and he still wouldn't clear me, but another doctor cleared me.
"I felt ready to play, so I was kind of determined. I had the surgery, and I worked hard in physical therapy and was able to get cleared."
Evans played in two matches at the district tournament and also played during the Lions' victory against Southridge on Tuesday in the opening round of the regional tournament.
Kennewick faces Mt. Spokane at 1 p.m. today at West Valley. The winner earns a state berth, while the loser will get one more shot at state.
Which is more shots than the Lions' program thought Evans would get this season.
Kennewick coach Julie Maciboba didn't see the injury happen, but was told by athletic director Ronny Coleman and others that it did not look good. After the trainer got an initial look, Maciboba assumed Evans' season was done.
"When she first tore it, she kept saying she would be back, she would be back," Maciboba said. "But I didn't believe her.
"I'm starting to believe everything she says now."
Evans wears a brace on her left knee, which limits her movements, especially when she pivots.
"The only way it affects me is it limits how quickly I can turn," she said. "But that just comes down to reading the ball well. I pay more attention (to positioning), but I worked on that a lot before it happened."
Evans was the starting libero her junior season, a magical season in which the Lions qualified for the state tournament for the first time in program history. So, when Evans went down with the injury, it was hard to think the promise of her senior season was over.
"It was a huge loss," Maciboba said. "It was definitely difficult, but we didn't have time to think about it."
Kelly Dyer replaced Evans during the Southridge match, and Lizzy Ridley has been the starting libero since. Now, the Lions welcome Evans back just in time for a run at another state tournament berth.
"I would say it is worth it," Evans said. "I was kind of lucky because my whole team was supportive, so I was willing to work hard and come back to play with them."
Evans is scheduled to have a longer surgery in December to put a cadaver's ACL in as a replacement. For now, though, she is playing pain free.
"It is really hard for me to believe that it doesn't hurt her, but I do," Maciboba said. "I never see it bothering her. She doesn't take pain relievers, and she forgets to ice it, and I have to consistently remind her to ice it down."
Evans isn't playing entire matches, but as she continues to get back into the flow with her serve and receive, Maciboba expects her to play more -- assuming the Lions' season continues past the regional tournament.
Which if Evans has anything to say about it, it definitely will.
* Craig Craker: 509-582-1509; email@example.com; Twitter.com/craig_craker